On April 20, more attention than usual is paid to the power of cannabis. And, already, in states like Connecticut, where an adult-use market has been given the green light by voters, cannabis gets a lot of attention.
Adult-use sales are expected to begin later this year, which will amp up the excitement. For now, though, what’s needed to get a market like that off the ground? Reporter Matt Grahn at The Bulletin put that question to regional business owners.
Long story short: Capital is being raised, and capital is being spent to acquire real estate and get facilities up and running.
“In terms of investing in these facilities, we’re going to be pumping $10 million to $15 million into Norwich,” Jason Webski, the CEO of Sweetspot Farms, told Grahn. “That’s not just investing in the real estate; that’s local contractors. It stimulates the economy in many ancillary ways.”
The Sweetspot Farms team is seeking a cultivation license in the small city of Norwich.
Just recently, Norwich aldermen revised the city’s zoning ordinances to allow “plant-based” manufacturing—specifically paving the way for just such a business as what Sweetspot Farms brings to the table.
Legislative action like that "makes it crystal clear for those who wish to do business in the emerging cannabis industry that they can go to the state in full confidence that they're asking for a license to do business in Norwich, and that it'll be authorized," Norwich Community Development Corporation President Kevin Brown said earlier this month. These moments of fine-tuning local regulations are often critical in the transition period between statewide legalization and the enactment of a functioning marketplace.
Right now, Connecticut’s medical cannabis market supports four cultivation businesses (“producers” in the state’s parlance) and 18 dispensaries. More are coming, no doubt, as the adult-use market comes into view; the state began accepting certain license applications in February. All told, the adult-use market will include a broader spectrum of license types—including micro-cultivation, delivery, hybrid retail, food and beverage, and packaging, for starters.
In the meantime, as prospective licensees are learning, it’s a balancing act. Zoning laws must be considered alongside attractive real estate leads, which must then be measured against access to capital—and all of that needs to be timed just right in the run-up to the launch of Connecticut’s market.
“It’ll take time for people to secure a location, and people don’t want to do that until they know they have a license,” Kaitlyn Krasselt, communications director of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, told Grahn.
Of course, cannabis is a long game.
The Marijuana Policy Project previously asserted that legalization in Connecticut will bring about a market clocking some $177.8 million in sales this year (assuming, at the time, that sales would begin July 2022).
And five years from now, that figure looks more like $818.3 million in annual sales.